Trump administration backpedals on plans to eliminate 'drug czar' office: 5 things to know

The White House has shifted gears on plans to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 95 percent, according to a Politico report.

 

The proposal to reduce funding for the office overseeing the nation's response to the opioid epidemic from $388 million to $24 million made earlier this month was met with rebukes from both Republicans and Democrats.

Here are five things to know.

1. The Trump administration's proposed budget now includes $369 million for the office in 2018, marking just a five percent reduction. Supporters of the proposed reduction argued many of the programs supported by the ONDCP were superfluous and duplicative of other federal initiatives.

2. The 2018 budget would provide the office's drug-free communities program with $92 million budget, a $3 million deduction from its 2017 funds. The office's high-intensity drug trafficking program would also see its budget reduced to $246.5 million from $250 million in 2017, according to the report.

3. While the proposed budget cuts made earlier this month may have resulted in the termination of more than 30 employees, the new budget cuts would result in the loss of nine positions, according to comments made by an office spokesperson cited by Politico.

4. Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, W.Va., who previously criticized the initial proposed cuts, said she was happy to see the reversal.

"We still have a long way to go when it comes to the drug epidemic, and it is essential that we remain fully committed to fighting it. We need to be doing more — not less," said Ms. Capito, according to Politico.

5. The new White House federal drug budget includes a total of $27.75 billion for 2018, marking a marginal increase from last year's $27.48 billion. However, some public health advocates have characterized the total figure as disingenuous, arguing most of those funds will be disseminated to law enforcement and will not be used for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Additionally, some experts say the Trump administration should not be praised for moving away from the proposed cuts.

"The administration was ultimately pressured into doing the right thing, but it remains disturbing that they ever considered walking away from responding to the opioid epidemic," said Keith Humphreys, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford (Calif.) University who served in the ONDCP under the Obama administration, according to Politico.

More articles on opioids: 
Independence Blue Cross Foundation launches study to improve ER addiction treatment referrals 
More research needed on link between fetal opioid exposure and birth defects, study finds 
FDA commissioner establishes new opioid committee

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